Posts Tagged ‘pie’

Birthday Pie

p4170114Pecan Pie just seems a little weird to me in the spring-time, but, ahh, the things I’ll do for love!  Scott loves pecan pie and has been begging for one ever since the “Pecan Pie Shortage of Thanksgiving ’08”.  There wasn’t really a shortage per se…it’s all about perspective- see?

So anyway, I figured that spring or not, he was owed a pecan pie for his birthday. And he was in heaven.  Apparently it was the best one yet.  Shrug.  I’m not really a lover of pecan pie, you see.  They’re good an’ all, but a lover, I am not.  But I make them anyway since as you know, my lover is a lover!

I’ve always followed the recipe out of Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe, which was practically my first cookbook, back before I even went to culinary school.  You’ve got to hand it to ’em for explaining their thought processes through all their testings, and for baked goods they do a pretty darn good job.

Pecan Pie adapted from The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

I used my own flaky pie dough that I so love and just poured in all that nutty goo. Make once recipe of the dough and partially blind bake it.

The only real change I make to their recipe is that I substitute brown rice syrup for the corn syrup.  There’s a huge flavor difference that I love…(well, maybe I am becoming a lover after all!)

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, barely beaten
  • 3/4 cups brown rice syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecans (8 oz), toasted and chopped into small pieces

While you are blind-baking the pie shell, melt butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water.  Remove bowl from pot; mix in sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in the eggs, then brown rice syrup and vanilla.  Return bowl to the pot of hot water and stir until mixture is shiny and hot to the touch, about 130 degrees. (Be sure to watch this mixture closely and stir often so that the eggs don’t curdle.)  Remove from heat and stir in the pecans.

As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 275 degrees.  Pour pecan mixture into hot pie shell.

Bake until the center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50-60 minutes.  Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours.  Serve pie at room temperature, with lightly sweetened whipped cream.


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I’m Not A Flake

For about a month this past winter, we had quiche for dinner at least two times a week.  (I get obsessive about finding the perfect recipe sometimes, but alas, I did.)  It was delightful really, because the arugula and baby lettuces in the garden were still dainty enough to toss into a perfect little side-salad, dressed with just a few drops of vinegar, salt, black pepper and a good glug of extra-virgin.  Mmm, I wish there were more.

Anyway, back to the quiche.  Now, the first time I mentioned to my dad that we were having quiche for dinner, he nearly dropped the phone on the ground, stunned.  See, the memory is burned into the psyche of my immediate family as a whole.  It all began when, at 16 years old, my mom decided that I’d better learn how to cook something besides hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese.  So Wednesdays became my day.  No mac ‘n’ cheese or hot dogs were allowed.  I could ask for advice, suggestions, cooking tips, etc, but when it came down to it, the chore was mine.

So one Wednesday, I decided to make a quiche.  Who knows why?  I really have no idea, except that the recipe sounded good.  I’d chewed and spit in my napkin eaten many a salmon quiche in my younger years since that seemed to be one of my dad’s “specialties”.  I figured that it couldn’t really be that hard…just eggs ‘n’ stuff right?  Hmm.  Well, I just don’t know what went wrong, but what I pulled out of the oven was a little “loose”.  And by, “a little”, I actually mean, like REALLY loose.  So loose that you couldn’t even cut through it because there’s just no such thing as a “slice” of pure liquid.  Hmph.

I will say that, following their self-imposed, age-old instructions, both parents were obliged to at least taste it, but due to the “slurp” factor, we had to go out for fast-food that night.  I’ve yet to live it down.  Again… hmph.

Well, I think that I’ve got quiches nailed now.  I like them best when they are so chock full of vegetables that it’s really more veggies bound with egg, than egg with veggies floating in it.  My favorite example was made with artichoke hearts, marjoram, and sliced onion.  I think I added some Parmesan to the batter as well.

In most cases, you’ll want to cook the veggies before turning them in to filling.  I usually start by sweating down the onions, then adding the other ingredients as appropriate.  Allow them to cool for a few minutes before combining them with the eggs so that the eggs don’t scramble.  I usually add 2-4 eggs to the vegetable mixture, for a 9″ crust, depending upon how “eggy” I want it. Whisk the eggs in a bowl to break them up, and add salt to taste. (Yes, I do taste the raw egg mixture.) Just play around and experiment.  If you have a little too much egg mixture left over, just save it to scramble for breakfast the next morning.

To make a quiche, you’ll need to partially  “blind bake” the crust which means that you partially bake it before adding the filling.  To do this, line your removable-bottom tart pan with the dough, and prick the dough well with the tines of a fork.  Then line it with aluminum foil and pour dried beans into the shell.  (This weights down the dough as it bakes so that it won’t puff).  After following the directions for blind-baking, pour your filling into the tart shell and bake at 400 degrees until the very center is not quite set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set.  I like to serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.

My recipe for the yummiest flaky crust is as follows:

Flaky pastry crust adapted from Bakewise by Shirley Corriher

  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 ounces salted butter, cut into ¼” cubes
  • 36 grams water (about 1 ounce by weight, or 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Put flour and cubed butter in the work-bowl of a kitchen aid. Toss gently to coat butter with flour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Combine water, salt and vinegar in a small bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove flour/butter mixture, and mix using paddle attachment on the lowest speed for 2 minutes, until it looks like oatmeal. All at once, add the water mixture, and mix on lowest speed for 30 seconds- no more than that. Do the last few stirs by hand. Pat the dough in to a quick disk, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Using a 9” removable bottom tart pan, lightly spray with cooking spray and coat lightly with flour. Set aside while you roll out the tart dough on a lightly floured surface.


Roll the disk from the center-out, turning a ¼ turn as needed.  Don’t worry if the edges tear and you don’t end up with a perfect circle.  It can all be mended once you get it in the pan.


I use the bottom of my tart pan to cut out a circle.  Remember to cut your circle bigger than your actual pan, so that you’ll have enough dough to climb up the sides of the pan.  Place dough in tart pan, press it into place and fold edges down to form a nice crust. Use the leftover scraps of dough to press into nooks and crannies that need a little help.  Dock the dough well. *I just read in Michael Ruhlman’s new book Ratio, that you should never dock a flaky crust…I’ll try that next time) Freeze for 45 minutes.

For partially blind baking

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, with a baking stone set in the rack. Remove tart pan from freezer and line with foil and blind-baking beans. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake on the stone for 30 minutes. Remove beans and bake for another 10 minutes. Allow tart shell to cool completely, leaving it in the pan.  (To fully blind bake the shell, just continue baking after the beans have been removed, until the crust is golden.)

*in warm/dry weather, you may need to add more water.  You should be able to pat the dough in to a disk without it crumbling badly

*I’ve noticed that this crust gets slightly soggy when used with a really wet filling.  But I’ve just read here that Rose Levy Beranbaum brushes her flaky crusts with 1/2 an egg white after the par-baked crust comes out of the oven.  To do this, blind bake the shell as directed above.  Allow to cool for about 3 minutes after removing it from the oven.  Then brush with 1/2 an egg white, lightly beaten.  The residual heat should dry the egg white.  If the crust is too cool for the egg white to dry properly, put the shell back in the oven for a couple minutes, until the egg white has dried.

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